UK Championship 2009: Day Two Observations

Day two of the UK Championship and after a quiet opening day of the the event, today’s match-ups (on paper at least) look a lot harder to call…

Hendry v Davis, Higgins v Walden, Ebdon v Trump and Allen v Lee are to start and finish today, and right now I think that a case could be made for each of these eight players moving into the last 16 by the time the day is out.

Looking forward to play starting at 1pm today…

The arena is absolutely packed for these two matches, very good to see.

Stephen coming into the arena with his cue packed up in his case, that’s quite unusual for him.

Now that’s a statement of intent, Hendry opening up with century number 737 following a very bad miss on a red from Davis when he looked well set to build up a sizeable lead in the frame.

A scrappy second frame in which both had their chances, but Davis takes it and we are level at 1-1. I hope that this doesn’t become a missfest…

John Higgins meanwhile is off to a dream start, 2-0 up already! And he makes that three, having made a 50+ break in each frame so far.

Is the snow good or bad? Vote in my new poll further down the page and the result will determine whether it stays or goes!

Hendry takes another scrappy one to lead 2-1 but after the strong start it is clear that neither player is full of confidence at the moment and the mistakes are coming thick and fast. No problem for Higgins, that’s 4-0 at the mid-session interval…

Looks like Davis has levelled the match at 2-2 after a very long, forgettable frame. Things can only get better!

This could be a good steal from Davis, trailing Hendry 50-0 when the Scot missed a long red to the green pocket, he is now in with a pretty good chance. Says a lot that he has a chance to lead having made a high break of 36.

Stephen Lee is doing well against Mark Allen, currently 3-1 up.

Davis into the lead for the first time in the match at 3-2 but the quality is not getting any better unfortunately. Walden meanwhile breaks his duck and gets his side of the scoreboard moving. Still trails 4-1 though…now 4-2…

Stephen is looking all at sea and while Davis is not playing much better, he is visibly gaining confidence from the amount of chances he is getting. Much to Steve’s horror though, a terrible kick on the final green denies him the chance to go 4-2 ahead and we are level once again.

Three on the spin from Walden, got to hand it to him, that is hugely impressive from 4-0 down against the provisional world number one…

Pot success rates in the low 80%’s for Hendry and Davis, but it is Steve who has edged back in front following a very unfortunate shot from Hendry as he looked like clearing before somehow knocking the blue in when sending the cue ball around the table for the final red.

Hendry saving the best til last with a nice 130. Strange session, on paper with two centuries you could be forgiven for thinking that he has played well but by and large he was struggling out there. Davis too but you could see that he was enjoying himself and he will fancy the job tonight. Could be a dramatic one.

Brilliant from Walden, breaks of 33 and 31 bringing him level which from 4-0 down did not look on. If anyone can cope with that though it is Higgins and it will be interesting to see how he responds tonight.

Meanwhile on the outside tables Peter Ebdon and Judd Trump cannot be separated, while Mark Allen has got it back to 3-5 against Stephen Lee to keep in the match…

Perfect start from Jamie Cope against Mark Selby, a century to lead 5-4 while Liang Wenbo marches on, now leading 7-2 against Ryan Day…

Incidentally Stephen Lee made a break of 141 earlier, a good target for the rest to chase.

Oh how cruel, Ryan Day doing everything right on a 147 attempt but after potting a very difficult green he has come awkwardly on the brown and broken down. So close to his first maximum.

Jamie Cope now 6-4 ahead, worrying times for Mark Selby…

First man through today is Liang Wenbo, he has taken frame eleven to secure a comfortable 9-3 victory over world number 6 Ryan Day. Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson not far from joining him…

And Robertson has done just that, winning four straight frames this afternoon to end the run of Tom Ford. It is a shame that the match was not on a TV table as I would have liked to have seen how things unfolded, but from the scoreline at least it seems to have been fairly routine.

Jamie Cope takes another frame and now leads Mark Selby 7-4, could it be three defeats from three this season for the world number seven who right now lies in 16th place on my latest provisional rankings page…

Frame 12 looks like it could be the longest of the session as Mark and Jamie take it in turns to send the reds into baulk. Whoever gets in first will have a great chance though…

Some interesting comments from Steve Davis on Twitter about the new STAR tables, saying how they are definitely tighter than the old Riley models and how this could suit some players more than others. Will be interesting to see.

A re-rack in the Selby/Cope match after all that…John Virgo describing it as the strangest re-rack he has ever seen.

Stuart Bingham one away from victory at 8-4 against Joe Perry now.

And Stuart has done it, a useful win over a player who finishes the year with just one ranking event match win and will be hoping for better in 2010. 9-4 to Stuart.

After making much of the running in the frame, Mark Selby has seen it slip away and just one frame stands between Jamie Cope and a place in the last 16 as they head into the mid-session interval.

Hendry and Davis are back out, it will be interesting to see whether Stephen can cut out the errors tonight or whether Davis will come out on top…

A very nice long red from Stephen followed a nice break of 47 from Stephen but a missed blue off the spot when in control has gifted Davis an opportunity to snatch the frame…he doesn’t in one-visit, but a tidy break of 43 gets him right back into it…

After a long, high quality safety tussle, Steve has pulled out a terrific green to set up a potentially frame-winning clearance…but he has missed the final pink! But just when it looked like Hendry would take it, he has missed the black and conceded the frame. 5-4 to Davis…

Mark Selby meanwhile has got two back against Jamie Cope…

Stephen is making hard work of this, as Willie Thorne just said in commentary, his cue ball control has not been of the highest order. Still, breaks of 33 and 44 have levelled the match up again at 5-5 and we are no closer to knowing who will win this one.

Mark Selby really on a roll now, a break of 57 brings him to just one behind and Jamie must be feeling the pressure now…

Another dramatic frame between Hendry and Davis, this time it was Steve who got in first and looked set, but Hendry got back to the table and looked to clear only to miss the final black! Steve had a shot at it to force a re-spotted black but he too missed it and Hendry cuts it in to move 6-5 in front. I did not enjoy this afternoon’s session too much but tonight has been compelling viewing so far.

Incredibly Mark Selby’s second ton in the last three frames has brought him level again at 8-8, what a comeback…

Steve Davis meanwhile levels again at 6-6. He needs about four chances a frame but the way Stephen Hendry is playing, that’s what he is getting…

Over away from the TV cameras Peter Ebdon is racing away from Judd Trump and now leads 8-4! As Mark Selby has shown tonight however, this is not an insurmountable lead and he is now in with a chance to seal a 9-8 victory…and he has done it and look what it means to him as he lets out a COME ON! After such a poor run recently this could just be the result that kickstarts his season. Would not like to face him next. Hard on Jamie Cope though, having lost from three frames ahead of John Higgins at the Crucible, he has now lost a four frame lead here. Has to be said though that on each occasion his opponent produced his very best form.

“SteveSnooker: 6-6 tough session. Got a kick that sent white in off ;( 6-6 51 in front last frame with 2 reds left and got a concession! Merci!”

Congratulations to Peter Ebdon who from starting the evening 4-4 against Judd Trump has taken the next five frames to book his place in the last 16. Of all the matches today I felt that this one was the hardest to call but as has been so often the case down the years, Peter has saved his best for the longer frame matches. Mark Allen meanwhile has drawn level with Stephen Lee at 6-6, good effort from him…

For the first time in the match two frames separate Hendry and Davis as Stephen moves into an 8-6 lead. The last two frames have continued the pattern, coming down to the colours as they each make 40 breaks before breaking down. The decisive moment in frame 14 came when with one red on the table, Stephen succeeded with a cross-double before just making a yellow along the cushion to make the chance a formality. Steve was very unfortunate earlier on when having potted an excellent plant, the white came back up the table and knocked the blue in.

Brilliant long red from Stephen sets up a match-winning chance, he has raised his level over the last frame or so and is clearly sensing blood…and he seals a 9-6 victory with his third century of the match and 739th in total.

After a scrappy opening session, the evening was not one-visit snooker by any means but the tension as they each took it in turns to make a 40 break before breaking down and watching the other come back at them was compelling viewing. As a Stephen fan I’m relieved to see him come through but it was also nice to see Steve competing again on the big stage. Unfortunately for him however his inability to win frames in one-visit and score heavily proved to be the difference against a man still capable of rolling in the tons every now and again. Hendry will do very well to overcome Mark Selby in the last 16 though.

Two matches still in progress, John Higgins has moved back in front of Ricky Walden at 7-5 while Mark Allen and Stephen Lee are locked at 7-7…

Century number 420 from John Higgins sees him move just one frame away at 8-5, while Stephen Lee also needs just one more at 8-7…

Could we see another comeback tonight? Ricky Walden has got two frames back against Higgins to trail by just one. Stephen Lee though has completed a dramatic 9-8 victory against Mark Allen, a significant boost to his hopes of reclaiming a place among the world’s top 16.

No fairytale comeback for Ricky Walden, John Higgins has completed a 9-7 victory to book his place in the last 16. Time to update the provisional rankings one last time and go to bed!

  • Wayne — France

    The snow is annoying!!!

  • mscobina

    Don’t mind the snow

  • dannyboy

    Thought some of the safety was a treat from Steve. He also has played much more attacking early on in each frame. I don’t feel the pots and breaks is the be-all and end-all of the game. With the pockets less receptive to pots with pace etc the likelihood of mistakes is greater. I thought Maguire and Holt were poor too, but they dont have the age excuse! Davis potted a pink off a blue which was class. His escape to knock the brown safe and put the black safe was also special. He has made 5 breaks 30+ which is solid for Steve these days. Last match v Judge he had 9 breaks over 40. I think he has worked out there is a way to win by not doing the impossible. Does Ronnie pot the ones along the cushion with pace this season? He may lose 9-4 but Im hoping for a tense final session. Last year he was 4-4 each with Ding and lost the next 4 frames, so I hope its not deja vu! Hendry in frame 4 was amazing! He looked like a beginner.

  • Teo

    If I counted correctly Liang Wenbo did 11 breaks over 50, which is quite impressive.

  • dannyboy

    Well for me the variation in pockets is there for all to see event by event. Premier League tables easiest. These are tight which probably suits the likes of Steve as long as he contests the frame to the point where he makes 40 and one or two balls go safe.

  • matt2745

    I don’t know, on Twitter, Steve just said that Alex Higgins always used to beat him on a tight table.

  • Coylo

    The Snow is sexy

  • John H

    Congratulations to Selby- I didnt honestly think he had that performance in him at the moment. Well done Mark. Jamie should keep his head up- he performed well!

  • dannyboy

    It went 8-6 and Hendry finished it off in style but to be fair the long black for a respot and that ridiculous blue following in after he planted open the reds on 41 were crucial. It could easily have been 8-6 the other way. Lots of players seems to struggle with thin cuts on the blacks the length of the table. Davis must have had another 5 or 6 40+ breaks but no 50+ today. He seemed very good in the balls today upto 30 and 40 and looked very good compared with the rubbish against Robertson. Hendry is a mixed bag. Awful to the very good. His body language and disillusionment with his misses may not help his chances against a top 8 player. Selby on the back of his comeback win may prove too tough. Davis looks ok now for a top 32 birth for next season now and hopefully a couple more wins especially in the WC to make sure he has a fighting chance of a better provisional rank when more events return under BArry and co! Well played, good match just a shame we were within a whisker of a 8-8 scenario!

  • matt2745

    I probably cost Steve in fairness, I bet £1 on him to win at 6-6, the power of my jinx is strong.

  • Besiktasjk

    Great post Matt.. Thank you very much.. I don’t have a eurosport access. So i can’t watch the matches. Snow is pretty cool as well..

  • Northerner

    I like the snow. It reminds me what time of year it is. I would however like to see it pile up at the bottom of the screen when it lands. Could do to be a bit heavier too. At the moment it’s more like sleet.

  • GJ

    easy for robbo

    i it will be a tough one against higgins